You will want to plan your case from the outset. It is important to be aware of the steps in the court process as well as deadlines. You will spend more time than you think preparing documents and getting ready for conferences and hearings. Use your case plan as a guide and revise it as you go. It will help you stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.Case Issues
The first step is to identify what the legal issues in your case are. For a divorce, the major issues will be division of assets and debt as well as waiver or payment of spousal maintenance, among other matters. When children are involved, the major issues are parenting time, decision-making and child support. However there are more minor issues to be resolved as well, such as holiday parenting time and communication procedures.Identify Your Outcome Goals
The next step is to determine what your goals are for each major aspect of the case. For example, what division of assets and debt would you like to see? What amount of spousal maintenance, if any, do you believe is fair based on the support guidelines and any other relevant factors? What amount of time would you like with the children? Keep in mind that the court plays a role in ensuring that agreements are fundamentally fair and do not unduly disadvantage anyone. With regards to the children, the court has to make sure that the plan is in the best interests of the children. Thus, you will want to educate yourself of the law in order to determine whether your outcome goals will fly with the court. Keep in mind the legal standards that the court must follow in mind.Consider the Other Party's Goals
The third step is to consider the other party's goals. What does he or she want? What do you agree and disagree on? Can you meet in the middle to reach a fair agreement for everyone? You will want to evaluate the best method of communication. It is not unusual for communication to be strained between the parties in domestic relations matters.Consider the Relevant Legal Standards
The fourth step is to consider the law and the relevant legal standards. What are the legal standards that the Court will apply? How do your goals compare? Are you seeking fair results? Pay close attention to the factors that the court has to consider when making a determination. Many statutes have specific factors that the court has to consider. For example, a common set of factors is the best interests factors that are the basis for a parenting time decision. Evaluate whether you can support each of the factors with evidence.Prepare Your Evidence
The fifth step is considering what evidence supports your case. For example, if you disagree on the value of the marital home, do you have a broker opinion or appraisal to establish your value? Evidence can be submitted in documentary form or through witnesses. If you have concerns about the other parent's care of the children, are there witnesses who can testify? Your testimony and the testimony of the other party is evidence as well, however the court understands that the parties may be biased in their own favor and considers party testimony in that light. That is why it is always helpful to have independent evidence; particularly when there is a disagreement about the facts.Assess Your Informational Needs
The sixth step is determining whether there is information that you require to prove your case that you don't have. For example, are there financial documents in the control of the other party because his or her name is the only name on an account? There are mechanisms to obtain information such as a request to the court to compel production of documents. Discovery is also a mechanism to obtain additional information. For example, if you believe that the other party has dissipated assets in anticipation of filing for dissolution, you can request bank records so you can trace funds transfers and expenditures.Calendar Requirements, Events and Deadlines
The seventh step is to make yourself aware of all requirements, events and deadlines and calendar them. Allow yourself sufficient time to complete all requirements and prepare for all appearances. There is a process where you can ask for an extension of time through a motion if you need it, however there is no guarantee that the court will approve the request. The Case Management Order will provide you with much of the information that you require to accomplish this step.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law Solutions has more than 20 years of legal experience and protects your best interests. She ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.